A Suite of Songs for Saint Brigid, February 2013 A.D.

I

A long time had passed.  When asked

the King could only thus reply,

“Brigid?  Oh yes!  I knew her well.

She was, she was, let me tell you,

some woman.  Oh yes, some woman!”

He thought again, remembering.

“When she asked, I promised.

‘The ground beneath my cloak’, she said.

Her cloak that grew to the grazing

of even twice two hundred cows!”

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II

The folk of whom I am bred

of her still say

as always they said

This is her well

on her Holy Day

we drink

This is the bush

where she knelt

to pray

Here we hang cloths of red

that the young may return

whence they have fled

These are dark green rushes

we gather together

 from wet wasteful lands

These we weave in the shape

of her cross

with prayerful hands

Over the door they hang

that safe from fire

our house may last

Outside over the byre

they protect the beasts

from sickness and harm

Always and ever, above the rest

we will seek

we will take

waters of the well

that she has blessed.

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III

Born of slaves, yet blessed at birth,

in turn she blessed so many,

always seeing their inner worth.

Babies, young infants, the troubled

children from suffering homes,

for these her prayers were doubled.

Blacksmiths, mariners, fugitives,

chicken farmers, dairy workers,

to all these her prayer she gives.

Workers at our printing presses,

along with midwives and dairy maids

are but some she daily blesses.

Boatmen, watermen, travellers

as they go their various ways,

these she protects, they too are hers.

For scholars turning learned books,

for poets she had such loving time,

her hands hold the hands of my friends,

and when moved to write, of mine.

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CHESS

Chess

Across the checkered plain

with longing they look

towards each other.

He would be her King

she would be his Queen.

If only they could,

if only they could but,

if only they could but surmount

these obstacles

lying in between.

So many little things

must first be done barely

can they count them.

fifteen apiece to begin,

surely that is thirty

and even then, that’s not all,

that’s not all, not at all.

More than just the minor

there’s always so much more.

To get at the little the larger

must needs be forced aside.

How can they face all against them,

bishops, knights, castle walls,

as if greater forces combined

ordain that this they must,

without choice or voice to say,

other than do as told,

 and thus shall wait.

At her impatient command

horses move forward

o’erleaping minor obstacles

turning in a thrice

even if needs be, twice.

To his bidding cold churchmen

sideways sidling

find and leave gaps where other moves

may yet be made.

It is in that space then dance begins,

circling round they approach,

they waltz, they jive

they know what it is to be alive.

By tangoes torn again apart,

they are not the only players on the checkered stage,

obstacles great and small also whirl their ways,

twirling round so the very ground shifts,

even rattles and shakes, rocks and rolls.

At times they almost lose their feet,

all the while two things they never lose.

Firstly, sight of each other, however dim,

secondly, their final goal, their end in view.

From opening moves to endgame

always it is each other they seek

until at last the final play

on that battered board concedes,Image

checkmate!